Diary of a Fantasy Madman
Trying to Practice What I Preach PDF Print E-mail
Diary of a Fantasy Madman
Written by Zach Steinhorn   
Sunday, 20 April 2014 00:00

Remain calm. Be patient. What are you worried about? The season isn’t even one-sixth complete. The advice is very simple. The advice is very true. The advice is very good advice. The problem is that as comfortable as we all are giving this advice to others, when it comes to our own teams, it’s tough advice to follow. Of my five teams this year, two are doing well, one is stuck in the middle of the standings and two reside in the bottom half. I try not to pay attention to the standings until around mid-May, but sometimes I just can’t help it.

So, because it isn't any fun to talk about the positives, let’s take a look at a handful of players who are stressing me out. By the way, I own all of these guys in at least two leagues.

Ryan Braun

Something tells me that Braun will be to 2014 what Ian Kennedy was to 2013 – the player to whom I devote the most diary space. On the whole, Braun’s numbers aren’t all that bad. Heading into Saturday’s games, he’s on pace to finish the season with 29 homers, 95 RBI, 105 runs and 19 steals. Three weeks ago, I would’ve gladly signed up for this, but now there’s the numb thumb, the likelihood of frequent rest days, the fact that all three of his homers came in one game and the frightening possibility that I will wake up one morning to the news that Braun will undergo surgery that will sideline him for months, or maybe even the remainder of the season. I’m still wavering over whether I should actively pursue trading him. There is risk attached to both choices. The bottom line is that this whole thing is a mess, and I’m not too fond of messes.

Prince Fielder

This is a case of track record taking precedence over an ice-cold start. I’m not concerned about Fielder at all. I drafted him for a reason. Actually, I drafted Prince for several reasons. There’s the 25-plus home runs in each of his eight full big league seasons, the 100-plus RBI in six of his last seven seasons and the move from pitcher-friendly Comerica Park to that home run-happy park in Arlington. But how about that .190 batting average with one homer and five RBI through 17 games? Like I said, I’m not concerned. If you can trade for Fielder at any sort of discount right now, I say do it immediately.

Asdrubal Cabrera

Going into drafts this season, the elite shortstop group didn’t inspire much confidence in me, so I zeroed in on Asdrubal as a mid-level option who could exceed expectations. Maybe his 25 HR, 92 RBI, 17 SB campaign in 2011 was an outlier, but I could see 18 homers, double-digit steals and a decent average. So far, not so good (.222 AVG, 1 HR, 0 SB through 17 games). But it’s early, and I still have a good feeling about the Indians’ shortstop. How much longer will that good feeling last should he continue to disappoint? I’d say another month, maybe a little less.

Chase Headley

Something in between his 2012 and 2013 stat line seemed like a reasonable projection for Headley this year. Let’s see, that would put him at around .270-22-82-12 with 77 runs scored. Not bad. Unfortunately, it’s looking like Headley won’t come anywhere close to those numbers, let alone that insane .286-31-115-17 career year in 2012. How many times has Headley hit at least 14 homers in a season? Once. How many times has he driven in at least 65 runs? Once. How much did I pay for Headley in Mixed Tout? 15 bucks. How much did the old and boring Aramis Ramirez go for? 14 bucks. Ugh.

Chris Carter

Rather than following my usual route of drafting a low upside/low downside corner infielder like Adam LaRoche, I wanted to try something new this year, and Carter seemed like a worthwhile experiment, especially in OBP leagues, where he would be less of a liability. Well, at least I had good intentions. 40-home run threat? Are you kidding me? Through 16 games, Carter, my $10 Tout Wars investment, has yet to hit a single home run, and his OBP (.233) would be terrible even if it was a batting average. Meanwhile, a $3 Adam LaRoche sports a .412 OBP with three homers and 10 RBI.

I’ve already had enough of Carter, and he’s already relegated to my bench.

Remain calm? Be patient? Nonsense.

Last Updated on Sunday, 20 April 2014 07:39
FAABing and Catching and Closing, Oh My! PDF Print E-mail
Diary of a Fantasy Madman
Written by Zach Steinhorn   
Sunday, 13 April 2014 00:00

Monday, April 7 – 11:14 AM

It would have been nice to add a third closer to my Mixed Tout Wars squad, but there’s no way I would’ve felt comfortable shelling out 61 FAAB dollars for Francisco Rodriguez’s services. I mean, I do think there’s a good chance that he will hold onto the Brewers’ ninth inning job for awhile, maybe even the rest of the season, but we’re dealing with hypotheticals here. Nearly two-thirds of an entire season’s FAAB budget is no hypothetical. In an e-mail conversation with Cory Schwartz, whose $60 bid topped my $33 attempt, he noted that he’s not a fan of the Vickrey bidding system as it encourages and even rewards irrational bidding. Being that the erratic Jose Veras was his second closer, he had an obvious need for an additional saves source and was quite confident that he wouldn’t need to pay anything close to $60, so why not enter in a crazy high bid? Makes sense, but by the same token, all it takes is one other owner with the same idea to thwart these best laid plans. Yeah, technically he “saved” 26 dollars, but how would he have felt if he had to pay 60? Or even 50? Losing out on K-Rod is a bummer, but at least I can take solace in knowing that because of me, Cory has 11 fewer FAAB dollars at his disposal. Vickrey adds another element to this game that we all love, the mind game element, and I sort of like it.

Monday, April 7 – 10:32 PM

It would have been nice to add a third closer. That’s because right now, my third closer would become my second closer since my second closer has become my first closer since my first closer, David Robertson is headed for the DL. Still with me? So what am I supposed to do now? Enter in an irrational bid for Shawn Kelley because it sounds like he will act as the Yankees’ closer until Robertson returns? That doesn’t sound too smart in the case of Kelly, who is totally unproven in the closer role. But the Cory strategy might be my best option here just to protect myself in the event that Robertson’s groin injury is more serious than originally thought. The good news is that it’s not considered serious, and Robertson is fully expected to return when eligible.

Tuesday, April 8 – 8:20 PM

I’m still freaking out about this whole Ryan Braun numb thumb situation, but I’m feeling a little better about it now. Today, my $38 auction day investment finally made a positive contribution to my team. And, he did it in dramatic fashion, belting three homers and driving in seven in a 10-4 Brewers victory over the Phillies. Is this a sign that Braun has found a way to manage the injury or is it more of a fluke and actually a golden opportunity for me to sell high? If I decided to trade him today, what could I realistically get in return? Dealing Braun as soon as possible would surely alleviate what figures to be a season-long headache. But in an expert league like Tout, one monster game is simply not enough of a sample size to affect his market value. The bottom line is that the thumb issue isn’t going away. I usually cringe when all of those self-proclaimed fantasy experts use the “sell-high” term. So why am I even thinking about this? Maybe selling high based on one game works in a league full of novices, but in Tout? Forget about it. And besides, what if I traded Braun right now for 60 cents on the dollar and he ends up having a Ryan Braun MVP type season? I would be a lot more upset if that were to happen than if I don’t trade him and he drives me nuts all season. Yup, I really do think about this kind of stuff all the time.

Tuesday, April 8 – 10:03 PM

Well, that didn’t last long. I was so looking forward to managing my all-A.J. catcher duo, but less than a week after trading for Mr. Pierzynski to fill the void left by Wilson Ramos, I lose Mr. Ellis to arthroscopic knee surgery that will sideline him for 4-6 weeks. The Dodgers’ backstop reportedly suffered the injury on Saturday while running the bases. No big deal, as Ellis is probably my least important offensive player, but both of my starting catchers heading to the DL within the first six days of the season? What are the odds of that?

Wednesday, April 9 – 1:43 PM

Speaking of odds, what are the odds that I, the non-trader, would be involved in the first two trades of the 2014 Mixed Tout Wars season? But let’s not make a big deal out of this one. It’s really nothing special. Remember the 11 extra FAAB bucks I squeezed out of Cory? He now has seven of them back after I bought Alex Avila from him. See, I told you it was nothing special. Avila is a regular starter in a strong lineup who has some power and can post a respectable OBP. Two separate trades for two new catchers. Wonderful.

Friday, April 11 – 4:55 PM

In my inaugural Tout Wars season back in 2012, I was completely unaware of the FAAB redemption rules until around mid-August, and by then it was too late. Months earlier, I had dropped Wilson Ramos, who would miss the remainder of the season, without requesting any compensation. Who knows, the ten extra FAAB bucks might have made no difference at all, but it was still ten FAAB bucks down the drain. I will not make the same blunder this year, and once either Ramos or A.J. Ellis is close to being activated from the DL, A.J. Ellis will be gone! And so what that I will be recouping only one measly FAAB dollar. It could make a difference between getting that third closer and losing out on him.

Probably not though. Scott Swanay currently has 121 FAAB dollars, 21 more dollars than anyone else. If he wants a certain player, he’s going to get him.

Barring a trade, I’ll have a tough time finding that third closer.

Last Updated on Saturday, 12 April 2014 23:58
Time is on My Side (hope it is) PDF Print E-mail
Diary of a Fantasy Madman
Written by Zach Steinhorn   
Sunday, 06 April 2014 00:00

Monday, March 31 – 8:05 PM

Closer upheaval already? Well, in the case of the White Sox, it isn’t exactly closer upheaval, as the club never formally announced who their ninth inning man would be in 2014. Most assumed that Nate Jones would be the guy, but assumptions are dangerous, and Jones owners are finding that out the hard way. Outside of AL-only leagues, Matt Lindstrom is almost certainly available, and the veteran righty did successfully convert his first save opportunity today. But I’m not sold on Lindstrom. This is a guy who has been given multiple chances to close in the past, and he’s never managed to hold onto the job. He’s there for the taking in Mixed Tout Wars, and I’ll definitely place a bid on him, but I won’t go crazy with my bid. I could really use a third closer though.

Monday, March 31 – 8:23 PM

Oh, and I forgot to mention Francisco Rodriguez, who surprisingly notched the save for the Brew Crew today instead of Jim Henderson. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke says that he will use K-Rod in the ninth inning “for now”, whatever that means. But, it does sound like the club would prefer to go with Henderson as their ninth inning man, which presents a tough decision for fantasy owners when it comes to weekly FAAB bidding. I’m still unsure as to what I’m going to do in Tout. Who do I place a higher bid on: Lindstrom or K-Rod? The risk with Lindstrom is more performance-based while K-Rod’s situation has more to do with job security. I think it’s safe to say that Rodriguez is fairly familiar with the closer role.

Tuesday, April 1 – 9:44 PM

For some reason, I thought that Wilson Ramos would stay healthy this year. I was wrong…again. Back in 2012, my first season in Tout Wars, my $10 auction day investment in Ramos bought me a grand total of 25 games, and that was bad enough. This year, my $14 #1 backstop couldn’t even make it through one game. Ramos will now miss the next 4-8 weeks after undergoing hamate bone surgery on his left hand, and players returning from this type of surgery often experience a loss in power. This is just terrific. Even worse, a quick glance at the waiver wire reveals that there are zero available catchers that offer any sort of inspiration.

Time to make a trade. And here I was thinking that Fred Zinkie would be the first owner to both propose and complete a trade this year.

Wednesday, April 2 – 1:31 PM

Luckily for me, David Gonos drafted three catchers, and he was starting A.J. Pierzynski at UTIL, and that’s not exactly the ideal way to use your UTIL slot. In fact, Gonos was the only owner with three catchers in his active lineup, making us the perfect trade partners. So it is with great excitement that I welcome A.J. Pierzynski to my squad and bid adieu to Jason Kubel. A.J. is nothing special and he’s kind of old, but he is Boston’s starting backstop. Pierzynski is durable (but who knows how much longer that will last) and he still carries 15-plus home run potential. In other words, he’s way better than any of the waiver wire options out there, and it’s not like I gave up a whole lot for him. But the biggest reason why I opted to swing this deal is for peace of mind. I feel a lot better about my catcher situation now than I did a few hours ago, and that’s important.

Friday, April 4 – 12:02 PM

Peace of mind? What peace of mind? We haven’t even finished the first week of the season and my Tout Wars team is already dealing with a crisis. Ryan Braun is hurting again. His thumb is numb and he’s gripping the bat too tight, which has resulted in blisters. This is the same issue that sidelined him for a good chunk of last year before he finally accepted that season-ending 65-game PED suspension. Of course, the one year that I decide to go a little outside of my comfort zone in making my most expensive player a player with a decent amount of risk but a tremendous amount of upside, this happens. What a disaster. Although Braun will try to play through the injury for now, surgery is a distinct possibility if things don’t get any better. And, who knows how long he will be sidelined if he eventually opts to go the surgery route. One month? Two months? The rest of the season? And, who knows how productive he will be if he opts to go the non-surgery route. And, who knows if surgery will even fix the problem.

But, the one thing I do know is that it’s a long season.

Last Updated on Sunday, 06 April 2014 04:25
Psychological Torture PDF Print E-mail
Diary of a Fantasy Madman
Written by Zach Steinhorn   
Sunday, 30 March 2014 00:00
Saturday, March 29 – 2:04 PM

This is exactly why I prefer to draft my fantasy baseball teams as close to opening day as possible. The time in between the end of the draft and the start of the season is just so annoying. First, I look over my roster and kind of like it. An hour later, I stare at it some more before realizing that the squad isn’t nearly as good as I thought it was. There are weaknesses everywhere. What was I thinking? Was I even awake during the draft? But the next day, the team looks pretty good. It’s a continuous roller coaster of emotions until opening day, when those emotions can finally be re-directed towards actual player performance as opposed to hunches. Thankfully, we don’t have to wait much longer before the games that count begin, and I’m curious to see how my Mixed Tout Wars team stacks up against the competition. Now listen, I’m generally an optimist, and I was upbeat on Tuesday when I wrote this full draft review, but the past few days have been filled with doom and gloom. I know, I’m probably overreacting, but here a few of the players who I’m now a bit concerned about.

Freddie Freeman – Still a fan of the Braves’ first sacker, and he is just 24 years old, but maybe last season’s .319 AVG (and .396 OBP) was a fluke being that his BABIP was an unsustainable .371. I need him to be an OBP anchor, so this could be a problem. Oh, and he’s yet to reach the 25-home run plateau.

Jose Altuve – Cleanup? Are you kidding me? I’ve never seen a 5’5” cleanup hitter before, so this is somewhat amusing. What would it mean for Altuve’s stolen base total? I drafted him for his steals, not his RBI. So no, seven homers, 75 RBI and 15 steals will not work for me. Hopefully, the Astros abandon this crazy idea.

Asdrubal Cabrera – What exactly makes me so sure that Asdrubal is in line for a bounce back campaign? Take away his 2011 career season and we’re looking at an average big league shortstop. Maybe the real Asdrubal Cabrera is the 2013 version, the one who put up a rather mediocre stat line. If that turns out to be the case, I would’ve been better off throwing 12 auction dollars out the window.

Nelson Cruz – I couldn’t escape spring training without some sort of injury to one of my new players, and a beaning is never a good thing. It sounds like Cruz is OK though, but I didn’t quite realize how bad his OBP has been over the past few years. As a whole, my team’s projected OBP is terrible.

Chris Carter – The good news is that Carter can hit home runs. The bad news is that he has a lot of trouble making contact with the baseball, which translates to a woeful batting average. The good news is that his walk rate is decent, so he isn’t as much of a liability in an OBP league. The bad news is that he’s struggled mightily this spring, and if he continues to have so much trouble making contact with the baseball, the Astros might explore other options and relegate Carter to platoon duty. I’m not looking forward to dealing with this situation…at all.

Matt Dominguez – Another Astros hitter? Three Astros hitters? That’s too many. Well, at least I’ll get to watch all of them on live TV when they open the regular season against the Yankees on Tuesday night. Now that’s something to look forward to!

Alcides Escobar – Talk about a low OBP. Escobar’s OBP last season was a laughable .259. No, that’s not a typo. And I’ve just about clinched a last place finish in OBP. But if Alcides gives me 30 steals, I can stomach it.

Doug Fister – First, it was elbow inflammation. Then it was a minor lat strain that was expected to sideline Fister for the first week or two of the season. Now it’s a lat strain that could cost him the entire month of April. Great. Just great.

Dan Haren – Let’s see, we have a 33-year-old pitcher coming off the two worst seasons of his big league career. But his WHIP is still useful and he finished 2013 strong. Even if this doesn’t work out, I can’t fault myself too much for shelling out a mere five bucks to get Haren, though I’ll probably fault myself anyway.

Alright, time to take a break from dissecting my roster. I’ll look at it again later tonight, and probably six, eight, 12 times between now and Sunday night at 8:05 PM ET. And I’ll probably change my mind a few more times before then.

The suspense is unbearable.

Last Updated on Sunday, 30 March 2014 05:25
Marching to Judgment PDF Print E-mail
Diary of a Fantasy Madman
Written by Zach Steinhorn   
Sunday, 16 March 2014 00:00

We all know by now that Jimmy Rollins doesn’t care about spring training results, and that’s fine. Entering his 14th full season in the Majors, the accomplished veteran doesn’t need to worry about someone taking away his starting job. J-Roll’s manager, Ryne Sandberg, might disagree, as he wasn’t too happy about his shortstop’s comments, benching him for multiple games for no apparent reason, though it’s pretty obvious that he wanted to send a message. Soon enough, this whole feud will prove to be much ado about nothing. But this article will not be about players who don’t care. Plenty of players do care about their spring training performance, mainly guys who are fighting for an Opening Day roster spot, guys who are hoping to bounce back from a sub-par season last year or even guys who are striving to take that next step forward in their development. And as fantasy owners preparing for drafts, we should all care, at least a little bit. So, let’s take a look at some spring training player statistics that warrant our attention.

Mike Moustakas has swatted four home runs through his first 14 games and his 14 RBIs rank second in the Majors.

Oh, and he’s also batting .483 this spring (14-for-29). Not too long ago, Moustakas was being hailed as the next elite power-hitting third baseman, but after putting up strong numbers in the Minors, he has yet to figure things out at the big league level. Though expectations need to be tempered, I’m not ready to give up on Moose as he heads into his age-25 season. If you’re in either a deep mixed league or an AL-only and choose to wait on drafting your third baseman, Moustakas makes for an intriguing cheap power target.

Dustin Ackley is batting .441 (15-for-34) with one home run, nine RBIs and nine runs scored through 12 games.

Continuing on the disappointing former top prospect theme, Ackley is someone who I have little interest in owning this year, despite his impressive spring. Yeah, he’s slated to be the Mariners’ everyday left fielder and still qualifies at second base, which boosts his value to a degree, but seriously, what has he done in the big leagues to inspire any sort of confidence? In 356 career games, which amounts to a little more than two full seasons, Ackley sports a .245 batting average with 22 home runs and 21 steals. Some might see Ackley as a post-hype sleeper. I don’t.

Dee Gordon’s nine stolen bases lead the league.

Gordon’s elite speed is unquestioned, but for Dee, the toughest base to steal has always been first base. With Alexander Guerrero expected to begin the season in the Minors, Gordon will likely assume the role of everyday second baseman for the Dodgers. Maybe he will use this opportunity to finally prove that he belongs in the big leagues for good. Or maybe he won’t. Either way, players who can dominate in any one category will always carry fantasy value as long as they are receiving regular at-bats. Gordon is no exception.

Ivan Nova has whiffed 16 batters over his first four starts, spanning 13 1/3 innings.

The bad news for Nova is that he also sports a 5.40 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. Regardless, I was quite pleased with what I saw from the Yankee righty last season, and his rising ground ball rate should help to offset the dangers of pitching in home run friendly Yankee Stadium. An increased strikeout rate would only add to his appeal. Nova’s current NFBC ADP of 293 seems like a very reasonable price. I still think he’s being undervalued.

Hector Santiago boasts a 1.64 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 14-to-3 K/BB ratio through his first three starts, covering 11 innings.

I’m firmly aboard the Santiago bandwagon this year, having already drafted him in two different mixed leagues. Racking up strikeouts has never been a problem for Hector, and his change of address from Chicago to Anaheim will help his home run issues. But in order to truly break out, the young lefty needs to improve his control, and three walks in 11 innings is a solid start. I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see Santiago earn regular mixed league starter status by mid-season.

Joey Votto is batting .214 (6-for-28) with a 12-to-3 K/BB ratio through 11 games.

But really, who cares?


Last Updated on Sunday, 16 March 2014 00:11
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